In the latest installment of The Chronicles of Narnia films, young Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) asks Aslan the mighty lion why he hadn’t come roaring in to save Narnia from its current despotic rulers. Aslan replies, “Things don’t happen the same way twice.” This is true of the film itself, which differs considerably from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The emphasis on action over characters-and the reduced prominence of the Christian symbolism-make this sequel feel more like a standard battle epic than a tale of the eternal struggle between good and evil.
The new film picks up a year after the first one ended, with the Pevensie children longing to return to Narnia, the magical kingdom they once ruled. Once summoned back, they discover more than a millennium has passed in Narnia, where human Telmarines now reign, having forced the dwarves, talking animals, centaurs, and other wondrous inhabitants into hiding to avoid extermination. To recapture Narnia, the Pevensies join forces with the remaining woodland creatures and Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), on the run from his uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), Narnia’s tyrannical king.
Sibling rivalry between Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is replaced by tension between Peter, onetime high king of Narnia, and Caspian, the rightful heir to the throne, about the best way to fight Miraz’s superior forces. Although the battle scenes bear more than a passing resemblance to those in Lord of the Rings (New Zealand setting, mythical creatures, trees with superpowers), the stakes in this film don’t seem as high-perhaps because Miraz, despite his insatiable appetite for power, seems an all-too-human adversary compared to the White Witch (Tilda Swinton, in a cameo appearance). Or perhaps because Caspian-he of the lustrous hair-
seems callow, one can’t help but feel that Miraz’s assessment of him as weak may be on the mark. Nevertheless, the film is compelling (despite its long run time), and the combat scenes, though numerous, are not too graphic for young viewers (who may, however, find the sight of Caspian’s hand being sliced in a blood offering a little too intense